And I don’t think I really should either.
(And neither should you.)
So yes, like many of you I read that condescending article. I had many, many choice words to say about the author, and then I thought— this person is embarrassed of what they like to read and is trying to pass that embarrassment on to all of us.I am 27 years old and I read YA. Sure, I read some books written for adults, I read some books that are considered cross-over books, but I mainly read YA.
Let me explain. When I was in high school, I didn’t even know what YA really was, but I read and devoured it at a voracious pace. My love of reading and writing lead me to go to college to be a middle and high school English teacher and further my education to be a reading and literacy teacher. It was there in my education classes and working with students that I truly discovered the power of YA lit and I finally saw it from the other side— how a wonderful YA book can turn teens reluctant to read into readers. I began buying YA books and reading them, intending to put them in my future classroom. And even after I graduated, I kept buying and reading YA (even when the idea of me teaching seemed like a far-off dream.)
I might not ever teach teens and I still read (and love) YA!
I have teaching to credit for my love of YA, but wonderful books and authors to credit for my continued love of YA.
Why I’m not ashamed (and you shouldn’t be either).
- Universal Themes– Yes, the characters in these books are usually mostly teenagers, but the things that they face and the themes in these books can be found in books written for adults as well (and sometimes not written as well or realistically). These themes transcend the audience that the book was originally written for. They make it so that teens and adults alike can read, enjoy, and benefit from reading a YA book. Messages of love, loss, friendship, family, good vs. evil, etc. can be applicable to all readers.
- These books are actually good– Sure there are some YA books out there that aren’t the greatest, but there are some equally bad adult books out there as well. YA authors work hard to make sure that teens (and adults) can actually relate to these books. So many are beautifully written with strong characters and great themes and story arcs. Some of these books can change or even save the lives of those who read them. If that’s not powerful, I don’t know what is.
- Imagination. Some of the imagination that it takes to write these books and create the amazing world within them takes some impressive talent. Few books written for adults have swept me away into fantastical worlds like YA books have.
- You’re reading, that is good in and of itself. In an age where so many people are proud to say that they “don’t read” it’s amazing to see people who read and enjoy books, no matter what books they may be.
- Marketing and publishing companies generally determine if a book is YA or not. Yes, some authors write books with an audience in mind, but many don’t. They just want to tell a good story. Did you know that the US is one of the only countries that markets The Book Thief as a YA book?
Overall, just because you don’t like a genre, author, or even the audience a book is written for doesn’t mean that the people who read them are stupid or that they should be ashamed for reading something that they enjoy. Leave them alone.
Read, and let read.
I don’t judge anyone for what they read or don’t read. If people want to judge you for liking YA, let them.
My message to them: thanks friend— but you are the one missing out on some amazing books.